Partners for StrongMinds Launches to Bridge Critical Gap in Mental Health Care for Teens and Young Adults

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New Nonprofit Accelerates Early Detection, Treatment and Understanding of Psychosis Across the U.S.

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Today, there are still many vulnerable Americans suffering with mental health issues who have not received care. Organizations like Partners for StrongMinds help Americans secure access to care...that people everywhere are entitled to and deserve.

On the heels of new scientific evidence demonstrating the transformative impact of the early treatment of psychosis, nonprofit project Partners for StrongMinds launched today in partnership with longstanding brain health research leader One Mind Institute (IMHRO). Partners for StrongMinds will raise awareness and funds to expand access to earlier, empowering treatment for those experiencing symptoms of psychosis for the first time.

“It’s been over 50 years since President John F. Kennedy called on the U.S. Congress to move the care and treatment of people with mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities out of the shadows of institutions and into communities by signing the Community Mental Health Act,” said former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy. “Today, there are still many vulnerable Americans suffering with mental health issues who have not received care. Organizations like Partners for StrongMinds help Americans secure access to care, treatment, education, housing, and employment that people everywhere are entitled to and deserve.”

Psychosis is a condition that temporarily impairs the brain’s ability to decipher reality. Symptoms include confused thinking; seeing, hearing or feeling things that others don’t; and, an inability to focus or remember things. For some, psychotic experiences progress into a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Psychotic disorders affect 3%, or over 9 million Americans in their lifetime. Usually first appearing in late teen and early adult years, 100,000 Americans develop a new psychotic disorder each year.

Yet contrary to widely held beliefs, psychosis is highly treatable in its early stages. According to the World Health Organization, early treatment for psychosis can reduce symptoms by more than 50%, and help to return young people to school, work, and their social lives. Echoing a large body of scientific evidence from across the developed world, the largest U.S. study of specialized early psychosis treatment was released in September. The study further demonstrated the power of early intervention, with program participants experiencing fewer symptoms and greater quality of life.

Unfortunately, despite the transformative impact of early treatment, only about half of 18-25 year olds facing mental health challenges seek treatment. Young people experiencing psychosis typically wait more than one year to get help, missing a critical window in which treatment can stop its progression.

“Sixteen years advocating for my brother’s recovery from psychosis has given me a front seat view of a broken system that puts prevention dead last,” said Chantel Garrett, founding director of Partners for StrongMinds (formerly named the National Psychosis Prevention Council). “When I learned that psychosis was highly treatable in its early stages, and that young people were finding their way back to the lives they want to lead thanks to specialized treatment, I felt as though I’d been let in on the best kept secret in healthcare.”

Andrew Echeguren, a recent college graduate working in communications, is living proof of the power of early intervention. Reflecting on his experience as a participant in an early treatment program at age 16, he said, "Early detection and treatment moved mountains when it came to winning my battle with psychosis. It helped me return to the path I was meant to take. Thanks to early intervention, I am living up to my full potential every day."

Partners for StrongMinds’ website, http://www.partners4strongminds.org, is designed as an educational resource on psychosis, helping to connect individuals to treatment programs, support and information. Tax-deductible donations are used to grow awareness and provide access to treatment in the United States, where a fragmented healthcare system has stymied the kind of widespread adoption of specialized treatment programs that have recently flourished in Europe, Australia and Canada over the past decade.

The organization’s Advisory Board of experts in psychosis research, clinical care, mental health policy and advocacy uniquely positions Partners for StrongMinds to identify opportunities that will make a meaningful impact for Generation Z and those that follow. The team is currently developing a digital outreach project aimed directly at teens and young adults, created and led by the organization’s nine-member National Youth Leadership Board of young people with personal experiences of psychosis.

“Research has demonstrated that comprehensive early detection and intervention programs provide our best hope for achieving a full functional and symptomatic recovery,” said Michael Birnbaum, MD, program director for North Shore LIJ’s Early Treatment Program and StrongMinds Advisory Board member. “I am proud and honored to be part of Partners for StrongMinds’ mission to raise awareness and funds for treatment and services, reduce stigma, advocate for mental health reform and improve the outcomes for individuals with psychosis, their families, and society at large .”

One Mind Institute Communications Director and StrongMinds Advisory Board member Brandon Staglin added, “My psychotic break in 1990 was the most terrifying experience of my life. I was very lucky that my family and friends helped me get comprehensive psychiatric treatment within a few days of my break — this early intervention has enabled me to achieve the healthy, meaningful career and relationships I enjoy today.”

“We all have a stake in ensuring that young people facing mental health challenges are empowered to chase their dreams, because the downstream societal and economic costs of a system that dismisses preventive approaches are monumental,” Garrett added. “We want young people facing mental health challenges to know they are strong, and to keep dreaming big.”

About Partners for StrongMinds (P4SM)
Partners for StrongMinds is transforming the way that one of the most misunderstood health conditions - psychosis - is detected, treated and understood across the United States, so that more young people get help when it matters most. Through digital public education, P4SM is committed to all Americans having equal access to earlier, empowering and highly individualized treatment and support. P4SM’s dream is for more young people to keep chasing theirs.

About One Mind Institute (IMHRO)
IMHRO is committed to raising awareness and funding research to find preventions and cures for serious mental illnesses within a generation. IMHRO is led and supported by families and individuals whose lives have been touched by brain disorders - and who have seen how far brain health research has come in the last decade. Contributions to IMHRO have resulted in $225 million for research, changed thousands of lives, and funded stunning discoveries for better therapies now and tomorrow.

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Notes to editors:

Media kit, including fact sheet, logos and biographies.

Animated video illustrates psychosis and the promise of early treatment.

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Chantel Garrett

Tom Fuller/Monty Sander
Fuller & Sander Communications
(707) 253-0868 (707) 253-8503
@P4SM
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